Familiarity abounds at Mesa

Bryce Alderton

Costa Mesa High Coach Tim Postiff enters this girls water polo season

much the same way as he did for the just-concluded boys campaign.

The returners are many and expectations are high.

Postiff, who coaches both teams, had just enough time to catch his

breath after leading the boys squad to its first CIF Southern Section

playoff victory in seven years Nov. 11 to the girls season opener

Tuesday, which Mesa won.

The transition, though, should come smoothly with five of six

starters returning from a team that won the Golden West League

championship for the program's first outright league. The Mustangs

made more history when they became the first Mesa team to win a CIF

playoff game, a 14-4 triumph over Los Amigos in Division VI.

Postiff said the transition between the boys and girls seasons

isn't too difficult.

"I'm used to it. I've done it for the past two years and before

that I was an assistant with [former coach Bob] Shupp," said Postiff,

who enters his third season guiding the girls.

Mesa claimed a share of the league championship two years ago.

"[The difference between girls and boys water polo] is a different

style of play," Postiff said. "You have to adjust to the speed of the

game."

The Mustangs have dedicated most of their practice time to

fine-tuning their defense and counterattacks. Postiff also has them

swimming many laps in the pool to better their conditioning.

The experience is there, however, for the Mustangs.

The senior starters include two-meter standout Sarah Bowman, the

Mustangs' tallest player at 6 feet along with its most potent scoring

threat.

Bowman scored a team-high 83 goals while playing with tendinitis

in her shoulder for most of last season and earned first-team All-CIF

laurels.

"She does everything," Postiff said. "She plays good defense,

moves quick and has length. That, combined with speed, is a good

combination."

Postiff said the team's strength lies in its two-meter offense and

defense.

Seniors Christine Twohig, an All-CIF third-team honoree who scored

32 goals last season, and Allyson Harris, anchor Mesa's two-meter

defense.

Bowman, Harris and Twohig are all three-year varsity players.

Junior Annie Le, who started last year, will be the Mustangs'

primary outside shooter, filling the void left by Jessica Steenhard,

who graduated.

Steenhard scored 46 goals in earning second-team All-CIF honors

last season.

The senior class also includes Carley Millian, who scored 19 goals

in earning second-team all-league recognition last winter, Patricia

Schuppert and Marlet Afuang.

Junior Chandra Malapira, who earned first-team all-league honors

after tallying 27 goals last season, provides another scoring threat

while junior Sabina Wee also returns.

Sophomore Kelly Gentling, younger sister of Kaitlyn Gentling, a

former goalkeeper on Mesa's girls soccer team, takes over in goal for

Quyen Nguyen, who made 157 saves in earning first-team all-league

laurels last season as a senior.

Postiff said the Mustangs lost a few players in "key positions,"

but is thankful league play doesn't begin until January.

"In certain areas we are inexperienced," Postiff said. "It will be

a learning process."

The Mustangs have learned to win, especially over the last two

years.

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